Anambra State, like other states in the country, started her political journey in this present republic in 1999. Since then, the state has not had it easy. However, she prides herself as the “state of many firsts” and the “Light of the Nation”.
For most of these periods, especially within the first six years of its return to democratic rule, good governance eluded the state. At a point, it degenerated into a failed state. At the time everyone thought we would recover, it further fell into chaos orchestrated by the extremism of the negative side of god-fatherism. Things got worse. But somehow, there was hope of better days to come. The days did come and lasted a while against our expectations and despite all odds. At present, though we may not state categorically that we still enjoy the good governance, there is relative stability which made people take the state to be better than most states in the country.
However, judging from where we were coming from, the resources at our disposal, the visions we had and the goals we set to achieve; we cannot deny the fact that we have derailed from the tenets of good governance. At least having tested the best under the circumstances, we are better positioned to know when we miss the tangent.
Without going into definition of terms, I can simply point out that good governance engenders sustainable growth and development. A comparative analysis of the previous administrations in the state since the return of democratic rule in 1999 will show us in every aspect whether we are still in line or whether we have derailed.
Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju Administration
The Mbadinuju administration should better not be re-visited at all because it represents the entirety of what we desire never to be; both as individuals or family let alone a common people and a state. It was a failed state characterized by criminality, extra-judicial killings; not forgetting the closure of schools for more than one full calendar year. God-fatherism reared an ugly head in a very negative fashion that brought all state activities to a halt for the entirety of four years of the state administration.
Dr. Chris Ngige Administration
Following the net elections in 2003, a new PDP administration, led by Dr. Chris Ngige, came into government, though through illegality as was later ruled by the court, which threw out the administration after almost three years in power. With the administration came another level of criminalism and recklessness in which, even the Governor himself was kidnapped and forced to resign, an attempt which failed and brought untold hardship to the governance of the state. A wave of negative god-fatherism, once again defined the political environment of the State which lasted for the 3 years the administration stayed in power.
Though Governor Chris Ngige was the direct victim of this spate of lawlessness, the whole state suffered terribly. He, however, did the best he could do under the circumstance and, with that, won the hearts of the citizenry to a reasonable extent. But when subjected to a critical analysis, it was obvious that there were no structures of governance in place neither was there any development plan, objectives, nor agenda for the government. It was purely day-to-day running of government business. He, however, devised a strategy to win the battle of power through winning the hearts of Ndi Anambra. For Dr. Ngige, since it is possible that someone or group of people with connections/backing from the Federal Government could burn down the whole assets of the state government as well as markets, he resorted to road construction, which cannot be a target of arson. Hence, the Ngige administration focused on road construction (also being a critical need of the state) and payment of salaries with little or nothing done in other sectors of governance/economy.
Mr. Peter Obi Administration
Then comes the Obi’s administration which lasted for 8 years. This administration brought back some level of sanity into Anambra politics and built a solid structure for governance such that it would be easy for any other administration to achieve much building on the structures put in place by this administration. Some outstanding facts about this administration is that it set pace, lasting legacy and good precedence in so many different aspects of governance, politics and the Law. Above all, it delivered democracy.
There are salient issues that might seem so negligible but makes me wonder if the man at the head of this administration, Mr. Peter Obi, is actually a politician in Nigeria. It was only in Anambra State during Obi’s administration that you will see the bill-boards of candidates of other opposition parties who contested elections against him, standing in prominent places months/years even after the elections. That is sanity! Politics with principle accommodating all citizenry. Like I said earlier, the administration delivered democracy.
How did he do it? ANIDS – Anambra Integrated Development Strategy.
For the first time in Anambra State, we started hearing “Master Plan”, “Government Policy”, “Development Objectives”, “Short-Term Plan”, “Medium-Term Plan”, “Long-Term Plan”, “MDGs” and so on. As he said, he came into a government devoid of any plan or objective. He had to go back to the drawing board; took some time to establish a structure with which to govern. He started afresh.
We may recall that Anambra State spent the first 4 years of her democracy fighting shadows; the next three years destroying whatever legacy, structures and assets we had and the ones we inherited from old Anambra State. We therefore wasted our first 7 years of democracy when other states were busy building foundations of governance.
However, Obi’s administration was not deterred by the enormity of their task. His reaction was very simple; instead of rushing into work to satisfy the curiosity of the masses who needed “actions” and the stakeholders as well as the “hawks” who needed government fund to flow, he went into planning. Like he always says, “he who fails to plan simply plans to fail”. Upon this, he came up with a masterpiece for Anambra development called “Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS)”, with which he planned to develop all sectors of the economy simultaneously. Like he analyzed back during his campaign days, whatever development fund that comes into the state should be appropriated equitably across all the sectors so that development should be simultaneous. He believed it is erroneous to develop one sector in expense of other sectors since the theory of equilibrium is valid in every aspect of human endeavor. To make ANIDS as effective as possible, he mainstreamed it to the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the success story is there for all to see. Hence by the time the administration was coming to the end of her 8 year term; even the oppositions and critics acknowledged openly that it was the best thing to ever happen to Anambra State. Hence, the succession was almost a walk over. To crown it all, before the comity of Nations, the administration declared that it was leaving behind in excess of N75billion in cash and investment for the new administration.
Governor Willie Obiano Administration
Then comes the present administration led by Chief Dr. Willie Obiano. At inception of this administration, everyone acknowledged that expectations were too high due to the lofty standard set by the immediate past administration. Meanwhile, that was the reason everyone believed that the best transition would be on the basis of continuity. Hence, when people were voting for APGA, they were voting for continuity of the Peter Obi administration and policies. They were convinced not just because of the acronym that “APGA bu nke anyi” but that the APGA government (under Peter Obi) has really delivered democracy. No single community out of the 177 communities in Anambra State can say they did not enjoy the dividends of democracy in many respect.
Meanwhile, the Willie Administration swung into action, though many are still in doubt whether it has actually achieved much within its three years of existence. However, one fact is so glaring: ANIDS started disappearing from the views and statements of government as with it MDGs. All were being replaced by “Willie is working”. Different agencies of government starting changing names just as personnel within government started changing. There seem to be no notable policy which is guiding the government’s objectives. One would expect that with the wonderful performance of the MDGs in the development of Anambra State under Obi’s administration, the state should key into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which replaced the MDGs when it ended in 2015, to continue the development of the State. Till now, there is no known policy in place except it is a secret document not know to the general public.
Next Step Forward
It is now down to electioneering and people are looking for some level of progress to ascribe to this administration. The question for us social analysts remains to determine whether stated/claimed facts and the indices of development still point to the tenets of good governance which Obi’s administration brought back to Anambra.
As we focus on the past 3 years of this administration, I hope to bring to summation the achievements of this present administration in line with the tenets of good governance and the reason we the people of Anambra should make a definite decision on whom to elect to pilot the affairs of the state come Ides of March, 2018.
(Ifeanyi R. Ibekwe is a writer, public policy analyst, the author of Public Policy and Conflict Nexus: The Deregulation of The Downstream Oil Sector In Nigeria 1999-2007)